April 16, 2019:

In this month’s Across the Consortium, the Big Ten CRC highlights a variety of initiatives, including treatment for children with leukemia, research for future vaccines against cancer, and research to prolong the lives of those fighting some of the most deadly cancers; and we honor cancer advocates who have lost their own battles with cancer.

University of Illinois Cancer Center

Judy Bolton, PhD, a University of Illinois Cancer Center member, distinguished professor and head of the department of medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy in the UIC College of Pharmacy, died Tuesday, March 5, from complications of breast cancer. A memorial service attended by more than 200 people was held at the College of Pharmacy to celebrate Bolton’s life. It was also streamed live on Facebook and broadcast to the college’s Rockford campus.

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Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center

Xiongbin Lu, PhD, a researcher in the Vera Bradley Foundation Center for Breast Cancer Research at Indiana University School of Medicine, working in collaboration with researchers from the University of Maryland, recently reported several important findings related to triple negative breast cancer and its treatment future, in the prestigious journal Nature Nanotechnology.

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University of Iowa Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center

A team of researchers, led by Miles Pufall, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry at the UI Carver College of Medicine, has identified a new target that may help improve treatment for children with relapsed B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL), the most common type of childhood cancer. By measuring the effect of every gene, one by one, in the genome, the researchers have found that a combination of Aurora kinase B inhibitors and steroids may help treat relapsed patients.

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University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center

The foods that people in other countries put on their plates could teach Americans how to reduce their cancer risk. In a global tour under the Fulbright Global Scholar Award, Michigan Medicine cancer researcher Zora Djuric, PhD, is studying eating habits in Serbia, Guatemala, and Australia.

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Michigan State University Breslin Cancer Center

Michigan State University scientists are engineering a virus-like particle, known as Q?, that will generate anti-cancer immune responses in the body and could potentially be used as a new vaccine for the treatment of cancer. The project, funded by a $2.4 million grant from the National Cancer Institute, will support the development of the vaccine to protect animals against cancerous cells that are currently untreatable, and could translate to vaccines for humans’ use of spontaneously occurring cancers.

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Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota

For most people, the only thing worse than hearing the diagnosis “cancer” is hearing that it has returned. Dr. Ilana Chefetz, leader of The Hormel Institute’s Cancer Stem Cells and Necroptosis lab, published new discoveries about ovarian cancer chemo resistance and recurrence in the top journal Cell Reports. Her research project included collaborations with Drs. David Lombard, Charles Landen, Thomas D. Hurley, Scott D. Larsen, and Ronald J. Buckanovich.

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Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center (University of Nebraska)

Taking on pancreatic cancer is a monumental task. It’s estimated that 92 percent of people diagnosed with pancreas cancer will die within five years. Thankfully, incremental strides are being made. One of the recent breakthroughs was reported earlier this month in Nature Medicine, and a niversity of Nebraska Medical Center research team under the direction of Pankaj Singh, PhD, professor, Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer and Allied Diseases, played a key role in the discovery.

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Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University

A new study published in Science has uncovered a key mechanism underlying the control of a co-factor that is essential for all cells to grow and divide, and which may also play a key role in cancer cell growth. Issam Ben-Sahra, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics, was a co-author of the study.

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Penn State Cancer Institute

In most cases, the cause of thyroid cancer is unknown, according to Dr.David Goldenberg, chief of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Penn State Health. But, for years, the vast majority of his thyroid cancer patients have told him they blame the 1979 partial meltdown of a reactor at Three Mile Island near Middletown, Pa., for their disease. Although he generally doesn’t agree with them, Goldenberg’s research indicates some of those suspicions may be true.

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Purdue University Center for Cancer Research

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels on March 27 announced that a memorial gate leading to the student-section entrance of Ross-Ade Stadium will be erected in honor of Tyler Trent, the Purdue graduate and superfan who died Jan. 1 of cancer. Daniels also announced the first recipient of the Tyler Trent Courage and Resilience Award, a memorial scholarship in Trent’s name funded through a combination of gifts.

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Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Hatem Sabaawy, MD, PhD, resident member of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, is the senior investigator on research examining the impact of a novel small molecule inhibitor in the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme, using a patient’s own tumors cells with patient derived organoids. The work was presented recently at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting.

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University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center

Ruth O’Regan, MD, has been named vice chair of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s (NCCN) board of directors. O’Regan, an internationally known breast cancer oncologist, heads the Division of Hematology, Medical Oncology and Palliative Care in the Department of Medicine at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. O’Regan also serves as chief scientific officer of the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium and president of the Wisconsin Association of Hematology and Oncology.

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Information for this story was compiled from Big Ten CRC member websites, news releases, and social media.

About the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium: The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium was created in 2013 to transform the conduct of cancer research through collaborative, hypothesis-driven, highly translational oncology trials that leverage the scientific and clinical expertise of Big Ten universities. The goal of the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium is to create a unique team-research culture to drive science rapidly from ideas to new approaches to cancer treatment. Within this innovative environment, today’s research leaders collaborate with and mentor the research leaders of tomorrow with the unified goal of improving the lives of all patients with cancer.

About the Big Ten Conference: The Big Ten Conference is an association of world-class universities whose member institutions share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and undergraduate teaching and public service. Founded in 1896, the Big Ten has sustained a comprehensive set of shared practices and policies that enforce the priority of academics in the lives of students competing in intercollegiate athletics and emphasize the values of integrity, fairness and competitiveness. The broad-based programs of the 14 Big Ten institutions will provide over $200 million in direct financial support to almost 9,500 students for more than 11,000 participation opportunities on 350 teams in 42 different sports. The Big Ten sponsors 28 official conference sports, 14 for men and 14 for women, including the addition of men’s ice hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse since 2013. For more information, visit www.bigten.org.